Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

Special Report: The Rights of Workers and Employees in Iraq

On the Occasion of May 1st, 2021, International Labor Day


Iraq faces major economic challenges as a result of the lack of a clear economic vision and widespread corruption. This has led to increasing numbers of unemployed workers, which was made even worse by the outbreak of the COVID epidemic that threatened the life of millions in Iraq and around the world. While there has been improvement of oil prices in Iraq, still government procedures are weak and insufficient to address workers’ suffering—especially the lack of basic services like water, electricity, and health care.

The Iraqi Observatory for Workers’ and Employees’ Rights published a report focused on these issues, on the occasion of May 1st,“International Labors Day”. This report was based on reports in the media, by union and syndicates, and monitoring groups from the different governorates. It highlights the many violations that took place between May 2020 and May 2021:

  • Governmental institutions continue to violate the rights and freedoms of the syndicates.
  • The National Retirement Authority has not implemented the labor law that the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers has requested.
  • 2,134 workers have been laid off this year.
  • There have been delays in paying employees’ salaries, which have led to many demonstrations.
  • Lack of permanent job opportunities, which have also led to many demonstrations.
  • The Social Insurance Registration is not functional.
  • Many workers have experienced injuries on the job.


  • Although four years have passed since ratification of the convention, Iraqi agreement No. 87 of 2017, which specified the freedom of the syndicates, still this law guaranteeing laborers’ and employees’ union organizations has not been enacted. We recommend this law be enforced according to international labor standards.
  • The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs must be independent with all unions and syndicates, Ministry as always emphasizes most of the projects and draft laws that have been issued in cooperation with the syndicates and committees, especially the retirement and social security law for labors, for evaluating the recommendation should listening to the labors, not deal with only one side, which is now multi-syndicates and the unions have become a reality.
  • The ministries, governors, and all agencies of the government should not interfere in the affairs of the labor syndicates. Correspondence from all relevant authorities should be consolidated through one ministry, such as the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
  • It is important for representatives of the workers’ syndicates and the employers to participate in organizing committee of No. 55, which is specific to the COVID pandemic and its impacts on the workers and employers.
  • Labor inspectors must have a greater role, especially in registering workers for social insurance.
  • It is crucial that issuing instructions for implementation of the applicable labor law is expedited and that there is follow up on its implementation.
  • Labor departments and health offices in the governorates must cooperate in order to share monthly reports of number of workers’ injuries and deaths.
  • It is especially important to foster cooperation among Iraqi unions and workers’ syndicates to work jointly for the benefit of workers. These syndicates and unions play a major role in defending workers’ rights, in protecting diversity, and insuring respect for all.